MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Common scoter (Melanitta nigra)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

A bulky seaduck with a total body length of 44 to 54 cm. The tail is long and pointed and the bill fairly small. In the male, the entire body plumage, tail and legs are black (the only totally black duck) with a yellow-orange patch on an otherwise black bill. Females are uniformly dark brown with the exception of the side of the head and nape which is a pale dusky brown, with a blackish bill. In late summer, females may display pale, bleached feathers on the back. Juveniles resemble adult females but with a paler light brown belly.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

The only breeding pairs in the UK occur in Scotland. The UK wintering population can be seen around most of the UK coast, with significant populations in Carmarthen and Cardigan Bays, along the Moray Firth and along the Norfolk coast.

Global distribution

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Habitat

Common scoters breed mainly near lakes and rivers in boreal forests and close to tundra waters but also on a few freshwater lakes and blanket bogs in Scotland. Exclusively marine outside of breeding season. These migratory birds are winter visitors to British coasts.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • In males the entire plumage is glossy black.
  • Females are a dark brown with nape and sides of head paler dusky brown.
  • Fairly small bill with yellow-orange patch in males.
  • Long pointed tail.

Additional information

Common scoters feed on sandy seabeds and offshore shallows, and dive to obtain their food. Their diet consists of small fish and invertebrates including sand eels, mussels and sand dwelling bivalves. They have important moulting and wintering localities in the UK, with 25,000-30,000 distributed in inshore waters. Please note that distribution maps are compiled using records for both breeding and wintering populations. For more specific distribution and abundance records please refer to maps compiled by The British Trust for Ornithology, available at http://www.bto.org/birdatlas/previous/index.htm

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Further information sources

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Bibliography

    Datasets

    1. Argyll Bird Club, 2017. Bird records for Argyll for the years 2002 and 2003. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/uilybi accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

    2. BIS for Powys & Brecon Beacons National Park, 2017. Brecknock county birds records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/2rd8nh accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

    3. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records recorded over 15 years ago. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/h1ln5p accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

    4. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records within last 15 years. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/vntgox accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

    5. British Trust for Ornithology, 2018. Birds (BTO+Partners). Occurrence dataset https://www.bto.org/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

    6. British Trust for Ornithology, 2018. BTO First Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1968-1972. Occurrence dataset: https://www.bto.org/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

    7. British Trust for Ornithology, 2018. BTO First Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1981/82-1983/84. Occurrence dataset: https://www.bto.org/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

    8. British Trust for Ornithology, 2018. BTO First Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1981/82-1983/84. Occurrence dataset: https://www.bto.org/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

    9. Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Environmental Records Centre, 2017. CPERC Combined Dataset. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/npthhv accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

    10. Cofnod – North Wales Environmental Information Service, 2018. Miscellaneous records held on the Cofnod database. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/hcgqsi accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

    11. Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre, 2018. Tullie House Museum Natural History Collections. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/epewfs accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

    12. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: http://www.ericnortheast.org.uk/home.html accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-38

    13. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. Fife Nature Records Centre combined dataset. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ccc1ip accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

    14. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. St Andrews BioBlitz 2014. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/erweal accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

    15. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. St Andrews BioBlitz 2015. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/xtrbvy accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

    16. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. St Andrews BioBlitz 2016. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/146yiz accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

    17. Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, 2018. Distribution of Species of Conservation Interest in Greater Manchester. Occurrence dataset: https://www.tameside.gov.uk/ecologyunit accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-27.

    18. Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, 2018. Bird Records held by Greater Manchester Ecology Unit. Occurrence dataset: https://www.tameside.gov.uk/ecologyunit accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-27.

    19. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. Isle of Wight Notable Species. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/sm4ety accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

    20. Lancashire Environment Record Network, 2018. LERN Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/esxc9a accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

    21. Leicestershire and Rutland Environmental Records Centre, 2017. Leicestershire and Rutland Protected and Conservation Priority/BAP Specie. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/7ve2nt accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

    22. Merseyside BioBank., 2017. Merseyside BioBank (verified). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ar0p6s accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

    23. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

    24. National Trust, 2017. National Trust Species Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/opc6g1 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

    25. Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service, 2017. NBIS Records to December 2016. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/jca5lo accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

    26. North East Scotland Biological Records Centre, 2018. North East Scotland Birds (1883-2010). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/o1okcz accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01

    27. OBIS,  2018. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2018-10-17

    28. Record, 2017. RECORD Aves Data. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/pudf3y accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

    29. Rotherham Biological Records Centre, 2017. Rotherham Biological Records Centre - Non-sensitive Records from all taxonomic groups. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/d3tufo accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

    30. Sheffield Bird Study Group, 2017. Sheffield Bird Study Group (Yorkshire records). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ytwnad accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

    31. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Birds (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/qfainq accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

    32. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project. Occurance dataset: http://www.sewbrec.org.uk/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-10-02

    33. Staffordshire Ecological Record, 2017. SER Site-based Surveys. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/h2yko0 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

    34. Staffordshire Ecological Record, 2017. SER Species-based Surveys. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/q8qen3 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

    35. Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service., 2017. Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service (SBIS) Dataset. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/ab4vwo accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

    36. West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre, 2017. WTSWW Data: All Taxa (West Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/gaakk2 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

    37. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, 2018. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - Non-sensitive records from all taxonomic groups. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/2razk5 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

    Citation

    This review can be cited as:

    Sweet, N. A. 2008. Melanitta nigra Common scoter. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 17-10-2018]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/2213

    Last Updated: 13/10/2008